***1/2 (Audio: C, Video: C-, Features: B)
Directed by Jill Morley. Written by Jill Morley. Produced by Jill Morley and Nelson Ryland. Released by Vanguard.
2001. 78 minutes. Not rated.
Music video, trailer, deleted scenes. “Stripped” is one of those exceptionally effective and uncomfortable documentaries that forever changes the way its subject is viewed. That it was made by a non-filmmaker — at the time — only makes its raw approach to stripping all the more effective. Actress Jill Morley made the film during a time when she actually became a stripper, using her access to the world and its inhabitants to make a film that tells more than anyone can imagine. It’s disturbingly “inside,” and extracts revealing confessions from all of its very different subjects. It’s not a polished film by any stretch, but that only adds to the voyeuristic power with which it makes its points. Men who harbor ongoing illusions about the relationships they may be developing with strippers would do well to sober themselves with a look at this movie — the disdain many of the women feel toward men, the disgust with which they regard the opposite sex, even while taking pride in the work they do, is impossible to fathom until its witnessed and heard firsthand. What Morley lacks in technical sophistication she makes up for with sheer grit, determination and passion for the subject. This is an unconventional documentary that breaks many rules, though in the final analysis it has to be conceded that no other approach would have been fitting. Unfortunately, the film’s conclusiveness is of a tragic nature — two of the profiled dancers died by the time the film was released. Despite the title, this is not titillation. It’s serious, meaningful and provocative in the mature sense of the words. Extras include copious amounts of bonus footage — most of it burlesque with one snippet sure to raise the hackles of Disney folk — as well as a music video.
-By Wade Major
Collector Rating: WORTH FULL PRICE